Author

Deborah Cruz

Thanksgiving recipes, thanksgiving dinner, cranberry orange relish, thanksgiving sides

Growing up, cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving dinner meant a gelatinous cranberry-ish colored substance in the form of a can. Really, it was like eating canned jelly. It was all I knew and I loved it. I’ve always been a sucker for a bit of sweet with my savory, as evidenced by my cranberry and brie bites addiction. I had no idea there was even such a thing as homemade cranberry orange sauce.

However, when I met the Big Guy, on our first Thanksgiving at his mom’s house, I tasted what could only be called cranberry orange heaven. It was absolutely nothing like the canned stuff that I had believed to be cranberry sauce for my entire previous 20-something years. It was like my mouth was tasting cranberries for the first time ever.

READ ALSO: How to Roast the Perfect Turkey

My mother-in-law bought a prepackaged deli style cranberry orange sauce by a company called Indian Trail. The little tub of sweet-tart-citrus deliciousness was magnificent and the flavors were incredibly vibrant. It was like eating color. The texture was jellied but not gelatinous. It was full-bodied compared to the canned stuff. To be honest, it was almost a dessert.

A couple of years later, the Big Guy and I were married and living hundreds of miles away from our families so we decided to host our first ever Thanksgiving dinner. It was all brand new. I was excited and terrified to take on the undertaking but it was time to make our own traditions, he and I. I finally felt like an adult. Just my husband and his wife and no parents around to do all the heavy lifting.

We made a list and made sure to include everything that we wanted in a Thanksgiving dinner. We were able to move away from the stove top stuffing and canned “cranberry sauce”. The one side dish that  I knew that I really wanted to keep from our mothers was the Indian Trail cranberry orange sauce. Only, when we got to the store, we couldn’t find it anywhere. After a frenzied scouring of the internet to save my Thanksgiving dinner ( because I was not above having my MIL overnight me the sauce from home) I found out that Indian Trail went out of business.

NOOOOOOOOO! I was so disappointed. Obviously, our first Thanksgiving was doomed. All I wanted was to host the perfect Thanksgiving for our family. We had gotten too big for our britches and Thanksgiving was ruined. There would be no Indian Trail Cranberry Orange Sauce for us. Or would there?

READ ALSO: How to Make Sweet Potato Casserole

Come on, y’all know me. I’m a Mexican, not a Mexicant. I did a whole lot of research and some trial and error taste testing and guess what I did? I created my own Indian Trail copycat recipe. All the same flavor and texture made at my house in a matter of minutes. And you know what? The homemade, from scratch recipe, is even better than the Indian Trail sold in stores version because it is fresh. All the bursting with flavors I was referring to earlier is timesed by 100%.

Here is my recipe for copycat homemade Indian Trail cranberry orange sauce recipe.

Ingredients

1 bag (12 oz.) fresh cranberries

1 whole orange including peel/rind, seeds removed

1-cup sugar

Instructions

Chop all of the ingredients in a food processor or a food grinder and stir to mix. Refrigerate until ready to use. Be sure to let it drain a while to remove the excess liquid before mixing it with Jello. The entire time it takes to process this mixture is about 5 minutes.

Ingredients

2 (3 oz.) pkgs. raspberry Jello

2 1/2 c. boiling water

Cranberry Orange Sauce

1 cup crushed pineapple with juice

1 cup of finely Chopped Walnuts or pecans

Instructions

Dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Stir in Cranberry Orange Sauce, pineapple and chopped walnuts. Pour into mold. Refrigerate until firm ( 4 hours). I usually make this the night before Thanksgiving.

READ ALSO: How to make an Easy, Elegant Thanksgiving Tablescape

Serve on Thanksgiving along with all of the traditional sides you love. Your family will thank you for it. This year will be year 15 that we’ve hosted and I just had a hysterectomy and we’re still cooking because I can’t go back to canned cranberry sauce and Stove Top.

What’s your Indian Trail Cranberry Orange Sauce side that you MUST have every holiday?

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we learn kindness, be kind, live with gratitude, give forgiveness, forgive, kindness

Ever had someone cut you off on the road or honk at you and it really irritated you? Ever find yourself cursing someone out and flipping them off in the car because they did something stupid? Maybe you’ve let someone else’s loud, obnoxious opinion make you feel less than and make you angry. I mean, seriously, who among us hasn’t? I’m not saying you have to be the bigger person but we never know what someone else is going through. But we can choose to live with gratitude and forgiveness and we can learn kindness.

The thing is you end up upset and they don’t give a shit. Honestly, they have no idea and no concern about how their actions affected you. You have just given someone who probably doesn’t matter in the least in your life, power over your happiness. Now, if you saw your friend do the same exact thing, you would stop them and talk them out of it but it’s not so easy when we’re caught up in the moment ourselves. Be gentle and kind to yourself. It’s hard to step back and just take it in before reacting.

Stop, breathe, forgive and be kind

I’m not judging. I’ve gotten angry, been judgemental and reacted poorly and/or aggressively many times throughout my life. In fact, I’m kind of notorious for it in my family and I’m a little embarrassed by my quick temper. I’ve always had this sense of justice that demands that I let people know that they’ve wronged me. Maybe it’s naiveté or maybe I just have to have the last word, I’m not sure anymore but, with age comes wisdom (or so I’d like to think) and my perspective has altered since having kids and again, more recently, once I started to forgive myself. It is now infinitely easier to forgive others.

READ ALSO: You’ve got to Do Right Woman

For years, I have been giving people’s bad behavior the benefit of the doubt. I gave birth and then suddenly, I shifted from “must chase this person who cut me off and almost killed me” to “maybe they have diarrhea”, “Maybe they’re on their way to the hospital”, “maybe they’re late for their wedding.” You can call it making excuses for people, and maybe I am, but I feel like it’s looking for the good in people. I don’t want to believe that all people are jerks. I think, mostly, people are good. Well, except for the racists, misogynists, bigots and homophobes, they need God. But other than that, I think most people want to make good choices.

You can choose to live with gratitude and kindness

You guys, my readers, my followers, my friends, you have made me a better person. Many times you have soothed my hurting heart, shared in my celebrations, loved my children, encouraged and supported our family on our journey from the beginning. You’ve been with me every step of the way on my health journey, my pregnancy loss and all the ups and downs that life has thrown my way over the past decade. I see you. I appreciate you and you’ve renewed my faith in humankind. You’ve opened my eyes and shown me alternate perspectives. You’ve given me hope when I thought there was none. Thank you. And yesterday, you held me in your optimism one more time.

READ ALSO: How I Reversed My Type 2 Diabetes

Yesterday, many of you commented on a post that I had on social media about how I’ve worked really hard to reverse a terrifying diagnosis. I didn’t share it to brag. I shared it to let others know that there is hope. There is a way and if I can do it, so can you. I was proud of the work and the results. You did not fail to once again lift me up. I felt it. The support and encouragement were humbling but you wrapped me in it like a warm, cozy blanket and lifted my heart to a place of impenetrable gratitude. That’s a beautiful place to be in the world.

After a walk where I nearly wept at the beauty all around me (I told you it was a day of gratitude), I could feel life’s blessings falling all around me. I literally walked counting blessings and praying for everyone I know. I like to pray using people’s names. I want blessings for everyone. Anyways, after my walk and a day of exhaling after months of holding my breath, I drove to pick Bella up from school for a doctor’s appointment. A typical day in the neighborhood over here.

Consideration and respect is a small kindness that we can all offer

I was in a great mood. I had a hilarious texting mishap with my sister-in-law and we were both laughing. I was whole body laughing. Serotonin was everywhere. It was glorious. There I was in the pick-up line at school, singing my heart out to The Spirit of Christmas by Ray Charles (you know from that scene in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation where Clark Griswold is sitting up in the attic watching old home videos? Yep, gets me in the feels every damn time) when suddenly but what at my door did appear? A very angry woman.

READ ALSO: Permission to be Ourselves

A mom behind me in the pick-up line had, literally, jumped out of her car, ran up to my window and proceeded to beat on my car window while I was lowering it to see what she wanted. She looked so angry. I met her irrationality with calm. She was yelling and her hands were flying around (I’m not talking shit, I am a proud Mexican hand talker), she was clearly angry but I couldn’t understand what I did to warrant such a reaction.

As she screamed at me that I needed to move because I was “holding up the entire pick-up line” (clearly she doesn’t understand how the front of the pick-up line works. We were all waiting), she screamed, “Do you understand that you are holding up the line?” Then I was completely confused because in pick-up line (especially at the beginning when school is letting out) everyone is holding up the line at one point or another. I could see that whatever was really bothering her clearly went way beyond me and where I was parked. So, I calmly (completely out of character for me) said, “I’m also waiting to pick up my daughter who has a doctor’s appointment now. She’s coming out in a few seconds.”

Choosing kindness is not always easy

She continued to scream that I was blocking her and I began to worry that maybe she had a bleeding body in the back of her SUV that needed to get to the ER. She was so urgent. Her arms were flailing and her face was red and I saw that this woman needed the win of me moving more than I needed to rationalize any of this or win the argument. I quietly and calmly let her finish her say and I said, “OK, I’ll move.” She responded with annoyance. I think she wanted me to be as upset as her but I just wasn’t. I wouldn’t allow myself to be. Then I chuckled because another text from my sister-in-law popped up and I thought this poor woman’s head was going to explode. I wished her a blessed day. I meant it.

READ ALSO: Do you suffer from “other shoe” syndrome?

No joke, I prayed for her. I hope her day got better. I don’t know what was going on in her life yesterday but it must have been massive. It must have felt overwhelming and for that I’m sorry for her. I wish I could make it all better.

I moved my car. I ended up at the front of the line. Everybody saw what had just transpired, no one gave me any issues for pulling right up to the front door as my daughter walked out. Bella got in the car, I gave her a smile and a kiss hello and we went on our way to the doctor. Meanwhile, that same very angry woman was still waiting for her daughter, behind someone else. I didn’t see anything on the news about her yanking anyone from their car and beating them, so I’m assuming everything turned out ok.

We don’t always know what others are going through

I’m telling you this not to make fun of this woman or to marginalize her suffering, whatever it may be, but to remind you to not give others space in your heart, mind and soul. Like most people these days, I have a lot on my plate and I simply don’t have that much space to give. In fact, I’m trying to do a deep purge of my life to eliminate negative things and people who are taking up too much space already. I’m all for saving space in my life for loved ones but life’s too short to let strangers or even toxic friends and family take up valuable space in my heart with negativity and hurt.

READ ALSO: How Grinch almost stole Mommy

All this to say, especially as a reminder this holiday season, we cannot choose how people behave and we do not know the circumstance in which others are existing (life can be hard for so many reasons) but we can control how we move through the world and how we react to other people’s actions. Be kind to everyone. It’s free and requires minimum effort. A random smile or a kind gesture can go a long way to quell someone having a bad day but also, it’s not your responsibility to worry about the entire world. Be patient and tolerant but be mindful and forgiving of others and yourself. If none of that works, walk away. You’ve done your best.

Most importantly, be joyful and grateful in all that you do and your heart will be full and your load will be lighter.

Thank you for reminding me of the power of people with your interactions and remember, you never know what someone else is going through. It could be the worst day of their life. So next time someone flips you off, cuts you off or mumbles something mean under their breath, just smile and move along because you can’t change their bad behavior (you have no control, you are not the boss of them) but maybe your kindness can knock them off guard just enough to snap them out of whatever is worrying, scaring or angering them. Go forward and be blessed.

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My why, why I am working to reverse my diabetes, family, Signs of diabetes, diabetes, diabetes symptoms, type 2 diabetes, how to reverse diabetes

Once upon a time, there was a mom who forgot to take care of herself. She put off physicals, yearly gynecological visits, haircuts and dentist’s visits because everyone else came before herself. She got diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol, had a heart attack and died obese. She didn’t know the signs of diabetes. She didn’t know type 2 diabetes symptoms. That’s how the story could have gone, still can, if we’re being honest. Make good choices people. And the story could be how that mom worked her tail off, put herself first for the first time in a very long time and figured out how to reverse diabetes in 3 months.

The kids were healthy and never missed a dentist appointment, doctor appointment or even a haircut. They wanted for nothing. Neither did her husband. However, mom always came last. No one asked, or expected, her to do this. She just did.

Diabetes didn’t care how selfless she thought she was.

One day after many years of ignoring her own needs, eating whatever was fast and cheap, not exercising and wearing herself out doing for others, she was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and hypertension. She is me. I am the mom who forgot to take care of herself. I am a diabetic. Have you forgotten to take care of yourself?

READ ALSO: How a Simple Doctors Visit might have Saved my Life

I’m not special. This isn’t an unusual set of circumstances. Many parents, especially moms, put ourselves last because the goal of life is to keep your family alive and healthy. I didn’t know the symptoms of diabetes so I didn’t think anything about it when I was tired after eating a high carb meal. I just thought I was an exhausted mom.

Do you know the signs of diabetes?

The life goal was a good, strong marriage and to raise good human beings. To travel the world and enjoy life. This is the ball that we keep our eyes on. Then one day, it’s too late. Suddenly, the signs of diabetes are everywhere you look and somehow you managed to miss every single one of them. You’ve got a diagnosis or three and shit is about to get really real for you. Hypertension. Diabetes. Anxiety. Depression. High cholesterol. Cancer. A heart attack. A stroke. There are too many diagnoses to mention but if you’re a mom, you’ve probably already gotten a diagnosis or two of your own and maybe you don’t even know it.

So there I sat in May hearing the “wahwahwahwahwahwah” as all the blood rushed to my head, after my doctor delivered the blow, “You are severely diabetic and you need to leave here and go directly to the pharmacist, do not stop, get your prescriptions and take your high blood pressure medicine in the car because you are also super hypertensive and could literally have a stroke at any minute. Also, you are morbidly obese.” *Slightly rephrased because “wahwahwah” was all I heard after she told me that I was severely diabetic. It felt like a death sentence. I could have been. My Uncle Ramon died from his diabetes. Latinos are highly predisposed to diabetes and high blood pressure. Why did I think I was special? I was terrified and depressed. How had it gotten to this point?

Type 2 diabetes doesn’t discriminate.

It was just a “few” bad choices, right? Ate some junk food. Never counted calories. Never counted carbs. Either ate whatever, whenever or never ate at all. Never “had time” to exercise. Ignored the symptoms or poopoo’ed them away because who has time for such luxuries as being sick and getting well. I have places to be, people to see and children and husband and the PTA who all depend on me.

Spoiler alert: The world will not implode if you take a few days off and take care of yourself. People can pick up the slack and figure shit out if they need to. No one will hate you (and if they do, so what). Generally, people are pretty good and they really do want the best for you but people only treat you the way you allow them to. If you show them a martyr, superwoman then they are going to push you like a martyr superwoman. Pssst, it’s ok to be human.

READ ALSO: What to do when You Realize You’re Doing Parenting All Wrong

But you don’t me to tell you that. You need me to tell you how I changed all of that. How I went from a morbidly obese, hypertensive diabetic to a mom on a mission who reversed her diabetes in 3 months. Sounds easy right? Like turning a car around but it’s anything but. Being a diabetic is a serious condition and can have serious health ramifications so if you have been warned that you are “prediabetic” take it seriously.

Being prediabetic is a major diabetes symptom red flag. Don’t ignore it.

Soon, you will drop the “pre” and just be a full-blown diabetic and your doctor will be checking your feet to see if you’ve lost feeling and never allowed to go barefoot again. You’ll have to have a special diabetic eye exam to make sure you’re not going blind and will never see your children’s beautiful faces again. You’ll have to count your carbs and work out like your life depends on it because it does. I was prediabetic before I was diabetic and I did nothing about it. That “pre” gave me a false sense of safety.

What did I do to reverse my diabetes? Yes, reverse because you can’t cure. Diabetes is incurable. You either live with it and die from it or you do what you need to and reverse it and get back to a non-diabetic state but whatever damage has already been done, has been done and you can always become diabetic again if you start making those wrong choices again. That’s my warning, that’s my real talk.

READ MORE: Food’s an Addiction and Sugar’s a Drug

How to reverse diabetes

My why, why I am working to reverse my diabetes, family, Signs of diabetes, diabetes, diabetes symptoms, type 2 diabetes, how to reverse diabetesPutting Yourself First

The first thing you have to do is make yourself a priority in your own life. Really. You won’t be alive to take care of or love and be loved by anyone if you don’t take care of yourself because you will be dead. Diabetes can kill you. Type 2 diabetes is completely controllable and reversible but you have to care about and love yourself enough to put your health above everything and everyone else. It sounds impossible but it’s not. With the love and support of those you love, you can do it.

Medicine

If you’re like me, you hate to take medicine. It sucks. Everything has side effects. You’ve seen the commercials; to help alleviate your depression you may become suicidal and to alleviate your migraine you can go blind. They have to list every side effect ever. But sometimes you need medicine to survive or at least until you can work towards getting healthy enough to not need it. I’m not on insulin but I was prescribed medication to control my diabetes and my high blood pressure, along with a plan to eat healthy, count carbs and exercise. There is no easy fix. A pill cannot fix everything. A pill is a Band-Aid to help you get well enough to get healthy.

Working Out

This is hard. Starting is overwhelming but it’s not impossible. When you’re a mom, especially, trying to find the time to work out can feel like trying to find time to do your nails or get a massage, non-existent. Remember when I was talking about putting yourself first? This is part of that. Just move. It doesn’t matter how. I started with a Beachbody workout (dancing), then I threw in some BBG ab work. My mom kept urging me to “just walk” and I thought it sounded too simple. I was hesitant but it was doable and it gave me time every morning to reflect and get my mind right. 50 pounds later, mom was right. It was simple. Don’t overcomplicate things. Just move. I document my daily walks on InstaStories to keep myself accountable.

Join me on Instagram to follow along as I reverse diabetes. We can get healthy together.

READ ALSO: How to Lose Weight and Get Healthy Fast

Eating Healthy

Not going to lie, this was hard because eating healthy means being mindful of what you put into your body and investing in yourself because healthy food is not cheap. It is so much more affordable and convenient to buy a McDonald’s dollar menu meal than it is to go to the grocery store, buy fresh produce and lean protein, cook it and eat it after a long day at work. And that is how we’ve gotten to 30 million Americans with diabetes. Most people start showing symptoms of diabetes after the age of 45 but there are more and more children, teens and young adults who are getting diagnosed. By taking care of ourselves and choosing more carefully what to put into our bodies, we are affecting our families and their health too.

I’m not saying you have to make perfect, healthy choices every single day. I’m not saying to deprive yourself. I’m saying to be mindful of your choices and how what you do affects your body. The most important thing is to not let a little blip derail your whole program. A blip is just a blip. Move on and get back to your plan. You can do this.

Drink Your Water

Yes, water weight is a thing and drinking enough water is good for your body in so many ways. It helps flush toxins and maintain the balance of body fluids. It just makes you feel better. You should be drinking a minimum of 64 ounces of water a day. I drink closer to 100 because it’s the only thing I really drink aside from coffee and tea.

Counting Carbs

I’ve never been one who could stick to Keto or no carbs. I love carbs. Bread might be my love language. But the thing is carbs are in everything; fruit, vegetables, rice, milk, meat and sauces. But yeah, there are a lot of carbs in bread so choose wisely.

My doctor gave me a finite amount of carbs each day to consume. 45 per meal, 15 per snack, three times per day for each. Now, it’s like money, I can spend it my carbs wisely on lean proteins and fresh produce or I can waste it on a snickers bar. You can see that a grilled chicken breast, asparagus, watermelon and brown rice would be more filling than a Snickers bar. Mostly we should choose the balanced meal but if you want to choose the Snickers bar occasionally, that’s ok. Just not all day and not every day.

Portion control

Last but, definitely, not least is portion control. Before I had no idea what correct portions were. The portions that most restaurants serve are not the right sized portion for an adult human. They are often double and sometimes even triple the portion size, carbs and calories that we need. So, I started reading labels and measuring. I know, it sounds like a pain in the ass and it is but so is being dead when you want to be alive. Soon, you will learn the right portions and you won’t need to measure everything anymore. Before you know it, you will be eating for fuel and only until you are full not until you are stuffed.  I used to east mindlessly and that’s how I got to where I was. Now, I am thoughtful about my choices; what I eat and how often I move.

This is how I reversed my diabetes in 3 months. It’s been 6 months since I was diagnosed with diabetes and hypertension. It’s been 3 months since I reversed it all. I will have to be mindful of my choices and work on my health every day for the rest of my life but now, it’s a habit. I look forward to it because I know I’m working towards being a better me. I feel better and I’ve lost 50 pounds. My goal is to lose 70 more pounds and to do a 5K in 2020. Did I mention by listening to my mom I’ve been walking a 5K every morning, 4-5 days a week? It’s the best part of my day and I’ve done it in everything from 20 degrees to rain, snow and 110 degrees. It’s hard but I’m worth it and so are you!

My why, why I am working to reverse my diabetes, family, Signs of diabetes, diabetes, diabetes symptoms, type 2 diabetes, how to reverse diabetes

This is how I reversed my diabetes in 3 months and saved my life. Are you taking care of yourself? Why not? You deserve to be alive and happy and most certainly, healthy. You are worth the investment. I know, as moms, we put everyone else above us, it’s in our DNA but remember your why. My family, my girls and the Big Guy, are my “why” but I have to take care of me to be here to love and be loved by them. I have to love me to be able to love them. It’s simple. Take care of yourself before it’s too late.

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fashion, make-up. beauty, pro style tips, pro fashion tips

Fashion has never been an easy field for normal people to master. I love fashion but I feel that it’s very personal. My own personal style is all over the place. I don’t like to be boxed in or labeled in life and certainly not in my fashion choices. My outfits really depend on where I’m going, what I’m doing and, yes, how I’m feeling.

There are professionals who dedicate their entire lives to knowing what to wear and how to dress different body types, sizes and shapes. More than that, they know how to dress different personalities to feel empowered and comfortable in their own skin, turning heads while doing it. That’s not just a skill, that’s an art form. One that I’d like some guidance and appreciation for.

READ ALSO: Fall Beauty Tricks

Obviously, we don’t all have time to focus all of our energy on knowing the ins and outs of fashion and make-up. While I do love playing with both. My God people, I’ve got kids and a job and working out and cooking and cleaning to do. Let’s be honest, I want to live my life. I don’t want to overthink the little things like what I’m wearing. Thank goodness for professionals. While it wouldn’t hurt if we all knew the basics of fashion and what looks good and fits best for our body, we can do better for ourselves, especially with a little professional help.

Here are some Fashion and Style Tips from the Pros online

Makeup

Makeup is one of the hardest parts of a beauty routine. It can be very easy to do things that make you look out of place or a little bit strange, and a lot of people put huge amounts of time into getting their make-up look just right. Nobody wants to look like a clown. One of the most crucial elements of this is the colors and shades you choose. Natural looks are easier to achieve than those designed to make you stand out. With this in mind, you should be choosing options that match your skin tone, while also complementing the color of your eyes and hair. This will put you on the right track with your makeup and is a method used by makeup artists all over the world to get the right look for their clients.

READ ALSO: How to have a Quality Fashion Wardrobe on a Budget

Of course, makeup is more complicated than buying the best products. You have to know how to put it on. Applying make-up can be challenging and this is where most people stumble the hardest. Thankfully, there are a lot of guides around the web that can help you with this. How to contour and highlight? Bottom line is that you can do amazing things with make-up with some simple research on the web and lots and lots of practice. Believe me, my girls can contour and do eyebrows like a boss just from watching hours of Youtube Beauty Vloggers.

Colors

Know your colors. Color is the next challenge you’re going to come up against, with the hues and shades of your garments, accessories, and makeup all working together to form a unified look. Everyone will have their own preferences when it comes to color, and it makes sense that you would want to wear your favorites.

READ ALSO: Tarte Sugar Rush Collection is Adorable and Affordable

There are lots of things to consider that can factor into this equation like the color of your hair, eyes, and skin playing important roles. If you like bright colors but struggle to pull them off because of the tone of your skin, for example, it could be worth looking for ways to incorporate them as accents, rather than the main parts of each outfit. There are loads of guides around the web which can help you to choose the right colors for your clothing.

fashion, make-up. beauty, pro style tips, pro fashion tips

Keep It Simple

It’s easy to find yourself layering up beyond reason when you’re struggling to figure out a style that works for you, and a lot of people overdo it with their clothing. Nothing speaks louder than something simple, though, and this gives you an excellent route to go down when deciding on your styles. For example, if you’re able to find a dress or blouse you really like, you should use your other pieces to draw attention to the main garment. Simple necklaces will draw people’s eyes to the neckline while surrounding a skirt with basic shoes and a shirt will make people notice the skirt most of all.

Let History Guide You

People have been putting a lot of time and effort into fashion for a very long time. In fact, in some countries, this has become a source of national pride, and there is a rich history when it comes to the clothing people choose to wear. You can use the past as a resource, giving you the chance to draw inspiration from those who have dedicated their lives to fashion. Vintage and retro clothing is always popular and is a great way to create a unique, timeless look.

READ ALSO: Why Primark is the Best Place to Shop with Teenagers

These are just a few tips I’ve gathered from researching the web and years of being a woman in the world. The bottom line, do what makes you feel beautiful. Don’t worry about trends or what other people think, if it feels good on your body and it fits, wear it. The only person whose opinion accounts is your own.

What’s your best fashion and beauty tip for busy women who want to look and feel beautiful but not spend all day worrying about it?

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fashion, make-up. beauty, pro style tips, pro fashion tips, fall style tips

With each new season comes the innate desire to change the way we look. Changing weather feels like a time for a style rebirth. Changing your fashion style can lift your spirits and even change your perspective.

This fall there are so many cool trends that I can’t wait to try. Animal prints are in. Platforms are back. Pointy flats are back in style and so are tiered dresses, pleated skirts, feminine prints and cuts and, my favorite color,  Kelly green. So many fun trends, so little time.

READ ALSO: How to Teach Teenage Girls to Put on Make-Up

But it’s not just about what’s hot. There are things you can do to update your wardrobe and look without spending a small fortune on clothes and shoes. Though, that can be fun too. Below, you’ll find some fall style tips that will transform your look in no time – time a look and see what you can do!

fashion, make-up. beauty, pro style tips, pro fashion tips, fall style tips

Fall Style Tips That Will Transform Your Look

Get A Brand New Haircut

Why not do something that will make changing your look so much easier and get a brand new haircut? The great thing about getting a new haircut is that it’ll make any look you’ve previously worn completely different. You could have a bob, get a fringe, or both if you’re feeling brave. Try something new and you’ll see for yourself how simple this one is.

Try A New Makeup Look

If you tend to wear the same makeup time and time again, why not wear a new makeup look that’s perfect for fall? You could try a new lipstick shade, or even try a new eye look with a new shade of shadow or some liner. If you don’t usually wear feline flicks on your eyes, for instance, you could try it and see what you think. Great colors to wear on your eyes for fall include shades of orange, copper, red, brown, and even shades like purple! If you want to try something extra daring, try orange and purple together.

READ ALSO: How to have a Quality Fashion Wardrobe on a Budget

Switch Up Your Color Palette

If you tend to wear the same color palette all the time, switch things up this fall. For example, neutral wardrobes are easier to funk up with a bit of color. Black, beige, and other neutral shades can easily be matched with pops of color. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t do something new and exciting if you already wear color. If you do, try contrasting colors for something new and exciting. Have a signature color for fall that you don’t usually wear!

Add Some New Accessories 

New accessories can make outfits we’ve already worn look brand new. Try a new belt, some layered necklaces, or even a hat from a unique boutique. See if you can put together a collection of amazing accessories so that you can always try something new.

Stop Buying Into Fast Fashion

Fast fashion is usually cheap, and even if it’s not, that doesn’t mean it will last. Fast fashion is terrible for the environment, as more often than not it is only worn a few times and then ends up in a landfill. You’ll be doing yourself and the planet a huge favor by staying away from high street stores! Instead, don’t be afraid to spend a little more on high-quality items. You could even thrift and buy vintage pieces for something unique that is so much better for the environment.

READ ALSO: Is Green Fashion the Future?

Find Ways To Make Your Summer Pieces Work For Fall

See if you can find ways of making your summer pieces work for the fall months. For example, you could layer up a summer dress with a cardigan or jumper and some thick tights or boots. If you get creative it should be really easy to do this!

Try Out Oversized Pieces

Oversized pieces always look cool and can add a little grunge to any look. You could wear oversized shirts, for instance, or even oversized trousers. If you’re worried about looking shapeless, make sure you pair the oversized piece with another piece that is more figure-hugging.

Invest In An Amazing Pair Of Boots

An amazing pair of boots will always come in handy during fall. You can wear them with tights and dresses, jeans, and just about anything else you’re thinking of wearing. Make sure they are comfortable, that they fit well even with thicker socks on, and that they will match the majority of your wardrobe. You should know that you’re going to get plenty of wear out of them.

Find A Muse

If you’re unsure of where to go with your look, find a style muse. Even just check out Pinterest and see what crops up on there. You can make a mood board or a collage of the pieces and styles that appeal to you and then change up your look and wardrobe based on that. This doesn’t mean you should just go and blatantly copy somebody else’s style – that’s boring. Instead, take pieces from different looks and styles that you like and have fun with them.

READ ALSO: Fashion and Style Tips from Pros

Add Some Glasses

Glasses almost always make an outfit look better. Both sunglasses and regular glasses can be used to create an edgier, more layered look that everybody will love. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different styles – those little half-moon glasses might seem pointless, but they can add a super fun 90s vibe to a look!

Learn How To Layer 

Make sure you learn how to layer different pieces so that you’re prepared for anything. Wearing your favorite short-sleeved shirt under a jumper with the collar showing through, for example, is a great way to layer and can look really cool. Layering adds lots of texture and can give a unique look to just about anybody. You’ll probably also eliminate the need to buy lots of brand new clothes.

Define Your Style

What do you want your style to be this fall? How do you want your look to be different? Make sure you define your style and you shouldn’t have a problem when shopping or putting different pieces together. See if you can find 3 or 4 words that you would like to describe your style, and then keep these in mind when dressing or shopping. If the look doesn’t align with the words you have chosen, forget about the piece. There may be exceptions to the rule, but in general, doing this will allow you to ensure all of your outfit choices and pieces are in keeping with how you want to present yourself. You won’t have a strange mismatch of styles, either!

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VSCO, VSCO girl, how to be a VSCO girl,

I’m a VSCO mom. I used to be a VSCO girl, back in the 90’s. I was one of the original VSCO girls, so I do not begrudge my girls a little social consciousness with a side of scrunchie, messy bun and oversized shirts. I love that my girls care more about the environment and saving turtles than who they’ll be giving their scrunchies too.

According to Google, VSCO girl is a term, generally used as an insult, for a young, usually white woman who posts trendy pictures of herself edited on the app VSCO. Stereotypes of the VSCO girl include wearing Birkenstock sandals, drinking out of Hydro Flask reusable water canisters, saying sksksk and I oop, and generally seeking attention online.

I actually love the VSCO girl idea because at the heart of it, what it really is, is young girls finding themselves. We’ve all been there. When I was a teen, I was several iterations of myself. I was a new wave emo girl, I was a prep, I was a social activist, I was a crunchy hippie and I was a little bit grungy. I was most definitely a nerd, an artist and at one point, I was even a club kid. I’m pretty sure I was 1000% more annoying than any kid saying. “sksksk” ever could be.

READ ALSO: Parents Guide to Teen Slang

Just to be clear, I am a grown woman now and I always use the VSCO app for my Instagram. I’ve been wearing Birkenstocks since the 80’s. My girls are wearing some of the scrunchies I’ve had since the 90’s and still wear now. Hydro Flask, Swell, Yeti…I have all of them because I drink water almost exclusively. Water is life. I am and have always been very socially conscious and I’ve put my money where my mouth was. PETA, Greenpeace, Amnesty International and WWF, I’m a card carrying member. I want to save the world. I want to save the elephants and yes, I even want to save the turtles. We (the whole family) own those metal reusable straws. We recycle and vegetarian is how we roll most days of the week.

VSCO, VSCO girl, how to be a VSCO girl, a parent's guide to understanding VSCO, VSCO girl trend, In defense of VSCO girls

What does all of this have to do with anything? What it means is that right now, your little/tween/teen/even early 20’s girl is trying on different personalities for size to see which one best fits her. Just because that might not look like what you imagined, doesn’t mean it’s not right. She’s finding her way and there is nothing we could want more for our girls (and boys) than for them to be the best them they can be and be comfortable in their own skin as they do it.

So what if she’s carrying around a hydro flask? So what if her sweatshirt can fit 2 girls inside of it and her shorts are tiny? So what if her favorite hairstyle is a top knot? Maybe this is how she feels beautiful and how she feels comfortable in her skin. Is it really the worst thing that she can do to have a wrist full of scrunchies? The “sksksksksk” is just another way to say “lol” and who among us hasn’t used that? And I know that no one who ever said, “Gnarly, dude, rad, totally or awesome sauce” is making fun of sksksk.

VSCO, VSCO girl, how to be a VSCO girl, a parent's guide to understanding VSCO, VSCO girl trend, In defense of VSCO girls

The thing is VSCO girl is being thrown around like an insult to our girls. I know we all think it’s cute and the VSCO girl memes are entertaining. Hell, even our girls being VSCO girls might be entertaining but do we really need another derogatory term to belittle our girls? There are already so many employed by the misogynist of the world do we need more?

Just remember, these tweens and teen girls are just trying to figure out who they want to be in life. It’s like trying on clothes to see what you feel the most beautiful in. Let her look at herself with an untainted heart. Maybe she’s a VSCO girl and maybe she’s not but let her figure that out. As parents, especially as moms, we are here to support and guide our girls into adulthood not shame them into feeling less than. The world will do that soon enough.

READ ALSO:  Teen Girls Rebel when teen boys rate Female Classmates

Being a VSCO girl is harmless, even if it may be annoying to you. I’m sure when we were teens, our parents thought a lot of the fads and slang we used was weird and crazy too. Maybe they said something to make you feel less than about it or maybe they just let you try it on for size. Bless my parents, they let me be and loved me for who I was, whomever that was on any given day.

This is how we grow and evolve into who are meant to be. Just imagine if that process was cut short by ridicule and we never fully reached our potential because of what other people thought? Or what if we never felt comfortable in our own skin because someone else made us feel like we weren’t good enough?

You are good enough. Your VSCO girl is good enough. Viva Hydro Flasks and long live the turtles. So next time you think about using the term VSCO girl as an insult, ask yourself, is this giggle worth making my daughter feel small or making her think twice about sharing the next iteration of who she will become with you? Because before any of us can become who we are meant to be, we have to be who we were. This is how we grow up.

READ ALSO: The TRUTH about Parenting Teenagers from a Mom of Teens

What do you think of the VSCO Girl? Did you used to be one? Are you raising one? Whatever the case may be, hug your VSCO girl, let her be all the versions of herself she needs to be to become the fabulous, fierce woman she is meant to be and keep your “and I oop” moments about her in your head (unless she’s in danger). This too shall pass.

XOXO, VSCO mom out.

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Lizzo, Halloween, Lizzo costume, Racially insensitive halloween costumes, cultural appropriations

Halloween is next week and I’m not going to lie, I want to be Lizzo. But I’m not sure I can do it because my skin is white. I’m Mexican but my skin didn’t get the memo. I’m a freckled Mexican and that’s ok because Latinos come in all shades of the rainbow. But I’m not black and I don’t know if it’s ok for me to be a famous black woman for Halloween?

Lizzo is such an inspiration to me. In honesty, Melissa Vivianne Jefferson may be one of my favorite people in pop culture right now. She is such a strong, straight up, force and I love that my girls have someone like Lizzo to see in the world right now. There is something about her that speaks to my soul, in a way that I’ve not felt connected to art in a long time. She is truth for so many girls and women.

Lizzo, Halloween, Lizzo costume, Racially insensitive halloween costumes, cultural appropriationsREAD ALSO: Happy Halloween, No Treat for You Fatty

Halloween is a favorite holiday at our house. We all get into it. We have, by far, the creepiest decorated house on the block. We have an annual Halloween party. We do family costumes and Zombie walks and on any given weekend, you will find us, as a family, binge-watching horror movies. We’re that family.

Halloween costumes are more than just dressing up as our favorite heroes or villains for a night, it’s the chance to emulate some of the people we love most in history and pop culture. I’ve been everyone from Bing Bong to Miranda Sings and Carrie White for Halloween. This year our family costume for the party is the Addams family. I will be playing the role of Morticia for the evening. But for the big night, Halloween, I really want to be Lizzo. This bitch is 100% that bitch.

Lizzo, Halloween, Lizzo costume, Racially insensitive halloween costumes, cultural appropriations

However, as a POC (if you know me IRL, you know that I can be any shade from alabaster to a golden goddess with my olive Latina skin) I find myself asking if I can be Lizzo because y’all know that I’m not about that appropriations life.

READ ALSO: Easy Dia de Los Muertos Make-up Tutorial

Lizzo, Halloween, Lizzo costume, Racially insensitive halloween costumes, cultural appropriations

I am a bi-cultural Latina woman who grew up in an urban African American neighborhood in Chicago. While my skin may be white and my culture may be Mexican, black people have always been a part of my story. I see color and I respect differences but to me, people are people. But as someone who has written about cultural appropriations and admonished those who’ve done it and warned others against doing it, would I be appropriating if I dressed as Lizzo, a strong black woman who I admire?

I think the fact that I’m even asking and giving pause, is a sign that I just shouldn’t do it. But at the same time, I feel like I’m a curvy woman with long wavy hair who loves and respects Lizzo and I really want to play Lizzo for a night. No, I won’t be adding padding or altering the color of my skin. It’ll just be me, as Lizzo. But that’s the thing about appropriations, right? I can be Lizzo for a night but then I can be Debi again. Debi the white Latina who blends in almost everywhere. And that is what is really giving me pause.

READ ALSO: Best Horror Movies to Watch with your Teens

So, I’m coming to you Internet and I know you’ll give it to me straight because isn’t that what the Internet loves to do?

Lizzo, Halloween, Lizzo costume, Racially insensitive halloween costumes, cultural appropriations

Is it inappropriate for this white Latina to dress up as Lizzo for Halloween?

I don’t want to be Lizzo because of her outrageous outfits (while the That Bitch outfit is amazing and I’d feel like a boss wearing it around my neighborhood) but I want to be Lizzo for the night because she is a force to be reckoned with. She is strong, vivacious and full of self-love. She has life figured out. All the things that women struggle with universally, she’s already had a come to Jesus meeting about and she has made peace with it. She is a strong female, maybe one of the strongest in pop culture, and I want to be that iconic empowered character for one night. It’s sort of like dressing up as Wonder Woman with slightly more clothes and 1000% more relatable to every woman.

Well, if this mama can’t dress up like Lizzo for a night, I guess I’ll just get tickets to a concert, wear the t-shirt and support her in all the ways I can because the world definitely needs more women like Lizzo in the world.

What say you, internet? Can I dress up as Lizzo for Halloween without being a skeevy culturally appropriating jerk?

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BEAUTIFUL, Carole King, Broadway Musicals, Morris Performing Arts Center

Broadway musicals are my jam. I love all the arts but there is something truly special about being transformed through time and space by a story told through music sung live on stage. Music is my love language.

This being said, there is nothing I love more than an inspiring story of a strong-willed woman who bootstraps her way through life and finds her way to the top. That’s why I am so excited to see BEAUTIFUL with my daughters.

BEAUTIFUL, Carole King, Broadway Musicals, Morris Performing Arts CenterDisclosure: I was provided tickets to the show for review purposes but all excitement for the theater and BEAUTIFUL are my own.

BEAUTIFUL tells the inspiring true story of Carole King’s remarkable rise to stardom, from being part of a hit songwriting team with her husband Gerry Goffin, to her relationship with fellow writers and best friends Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann—ultimately becoming one of the most successful solo acts in popular music history. Along the way, she made more than beautiful music, she wrote the soundtrack to a generation.

BEAUTIFUL, Carole King, Broadway Musicals, Morris Performing Arts Center

READ ALSO: Les Miserables Proves that Where there is Love there is Hope

BEAUTIFUL, Carole King, Broadway Musicals, Morris Performing Arts Center

Long before she was Carole King, chart-topping music legend, she was Carol Klein, a Brooklyn girl with passion and chutzpah. She fought her way into the record business as a teenager and, by the time she reached her twenties, had the husband of her dreams and a flourishing career writing hits for the biggest acts in rock ‘n’ roll. It wasn’t until her personal life began to crack that she finally managed to find her true voice.

BEAUTIFUL, Carole King, Broadway Musicals, Morris Performing Arts Center

This show continues to dazzle in New York and to packed houses worldwide with its wit, charm and soul. Featuring a stunning array of beloved songs, including “I Feel The Earth Move,” “One Fine Day,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” “You’ve Got A Friend” and the title song, BEAUTIFUL took home two 2014 Tony Awards® and the 2015 Grammy Award® for Best Musical Theater Album.

BEAUTIFUL, Carole King, Broadway Musicals, Morris Performing Arts Center

READ ALSO: Phantom of the Opera Broadway Tour

Beautiful is playing at the Morris Performing Arts Center in South Bend, IN from Friday, October 25- Sunday, October 27, 2019.

Show times:

Friday, October 25, 2019: 8 p.m.

Saturday, October 26, 2019: 2 p.m.

Saturday, October 26, 2019: 8 p.m.

Sunday, October 27, 2019: 2 p.m.

BEAUTIFUL, Carole King, Broadway Musicals, Morris Performing Arts CenterRun time:

  • ACT I: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • INTERMISSION: 15 minutes
  • ACT II: 1 hour
  • RUNNING TIME: 2 hours 30 minutes

The performance will begin promptly at the advertised curtain time. Latecomers will be held outside of the theater until the tour approved entrance time.

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Traveling, family travel

You might not always find it easy to spend time with your family in the chaotic modern world. Sometimes you just need a break from everything. You have work, and your kids have school. You also have to “adult” with responsibilities that take up a lot of your time. Forget about “spare time” that doesn’t even exist anymore.  Everybody’s under the same roof, but everyone does things separately more often now because as the kids grow up, they want to be with their friends more.

Maybe your kids binge-watch Netflix shows, play games on their phones or watch YouTube.. You might be doing the exact same downstairs. Wouldn’t it be nice if you all spent some time together? Well, here are some great ideas to help you have fun with your family every weekend. You’ve got to make that time off really count.

Go on a road trip.

If you’ve never been on a family adventure in an RV, then you’re missing out. In fact, it doesn’t have to be an RV. The point is that you should hit the open road with your loved ones and share some experiences. Make a plan regarding the route you’d like to take. Maybe you’d like to stop at a particular beach to admire the views and relax. Maybe your kids would like to stop at an arcade. The point is that a road trip can appeal to every family member. It’s a chance to do something that keeps everyone happy.

Make sure you stock your car well. The journey is part of the experience. You need plenty of snacks to keep everyone well-fed and happy. Bring plenty of water if it’s going to be a long journey, too; you might even want to get some flasks that you could refill whenever you stop anywhere. That’s a smart and sustainable well to make sure you drink enough on trips; you don’t have to buy water bottles. You should also prepare a great playlist for the journey. Obviously, you’ll talk and relax, but music will set the scene for your adventure. And you don’t have to go on a road trip every weekend, but it’s certainly something you should try to do regularly.

Play some games.

You could always stay at home and play some games if you want a relaxing weekend indoors, of course. You don’t always have to go outside and explore the world in order to have an adventure. You could unearth the dusty old board games that you might have used when you were a child. Or you could start playing some mobile games as a family. Words With Friends is particularly fun. If you want a helping hand, you could use a word unscrambler to give you some suggestions. Just don’t let the rest of the family know about your technique.

Have a movie night.

You might even want to think about having a movie night if you want to relax with the family at home. There’s nothing more exciting than turning your living room into a mini cinema. You just need some comfortable seats for everyone and a few delicious snacks. Of course, you could really switch up your weekly movie night by filming your own movies. Making a movie as a family is a great bonding experience. You don’t have to be the next great Hollywood director. The goal is to simply have fun as a family. Then, you can watch and admire the end product later.

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Torani Pumpkin PIe Puremade sauce, cheesecake, recipe

If girls are supposed to be made of sugar and spice and everything nice, I think I just might be made up of 90% pumpkin pie spice, the fiercest and feistiest spices of all. Seriously, it officially falls. The nights are cooler. The days are shorter. It’s time for leaves to change, cozy sweaters and denim jeans with boots and all the things pumpkin pie spice.

Disclosure: This is a compensated post in partnership with Torani but all opinions and my love of Torani syrups and sauces are all mine. #ToraniPuremadeSauce

Cheesecake is one of my favorite desserts. There is something about rich, creamy, smooth cheesecake that makes it worth my carbs. It’s by far one of the most decadent tasting desserts out there.

Being that it is Pumpkin Spice season again, fall, I love to enjoy it as much as possible. I know some people think that pumpkin spice is overrated but I’d say to them, if being basic is wrong, I don’t want to be right. Bring on all the pumpkin spice. I’ll try it every which way you can bring it.

When there are no recipes out there to eat what you want to taste, I say create your own recipe and that is what I did. I decided what could be better than two of my favorite things married to one another in perfect flavor harmony. I hope you’ll enjoy eating it as much as I enjoyed making it.

Easy Vanilla Cream Cheesecake topped with Torani Pumpkin Pie Puremade Sauce drizzle

Ingredients

Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter or margarine, melted

Filling:

  • 4 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs

Topping:

I love Torani Pumpkin pie Puremade sauce because it delivers amazing flavor with the ingredients I love. No
artificial flavors, no artificial colors and no artificial preservatives and it’s so easy to use. Add a spoonful to your coffee, cocoa, latte or dessert. The possibilities are endless.

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 450°F. Place a large pan filled with 1/2-inch water in the oven.
  • Make the crust:
  1. Mix graham cracker crumbs and cinnamon; add butter or margarine.
  2. Press crust onto bottom and 2/3 of the way up a 9-inch springform pan lined with parchment.
  3. Wrap a large piece of foil around the bottom of the pan.
  4. Freeze until filling is prepared.
  • To make the cheesecake filling: Use an electric mixer to mix cream cheese, sugar, sour cream, and vanilla.
  • Blend until smooth.
  • Whisk eggs in a bowl; gently add to cream cheese mixture.
  • Blend the mixture until eggs are folded in but not overworked.
  • Remove crust from freezer and pour in filling. Carefully place the cheesecake into a preheated water bath. Bake for 15 minutes; turn oven to 350°F and bake until top of cheesecake turns golden, about an hour.
  • Remove cake to let cool.
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
  • Cut and serve, topped with Torani pumpkin pie puremade sauce drizzled on top for just the perfect fall dessert.

What’s your favorite autumn dessert?

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